A rite of passage is defined as “a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone’s life, especially birth, puberty, marriage, and death.” While there are several ‘rites of passage’ in the American culture (high school, driver’s license, and the 21st birthday to name a few) we really don’t celebrate the coming of adulthood or teach to it well as a culture. Realistically, a young man could slip from childhood and into manhood where he’s choosing a wife and a career without anyone having ever set down with him and saying “you’re becoming a man, this is a big deal, and this is what it looks like to be a man”.
Matt and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to do something more for our kids, we wanted to pick a year and mark it as an important moment in that awkward transformation from child to adult. We wanted to speak into the lives of our children, to celebrate who they were, and who they were becoming. We wanted to teach to the future and not be blinded by the past. Our daughter was becoming a woman (weather we liked it or not), and since we weren’t the right religion or culture for a Bat Mitzvah, a Quinceanera, or a Rumspringa… we decided we must create our own ceremony. So, we made the decision that on the Summer of our children’s 15th birthdays we would take them on a special trip as our own Bedlington Rite of Passage. Why 15? Well, we wanted to do it before they had a car and a busy life that didn’t include us, and we wanted some time before they were too immersed into trying to figure out who they were, to come in and tell them who they are to us. Of course it didn’t have to be a trip, but we wanted it to be something special, and so a trip is what we did.
We just got back a few weeks ago from the first ever Bedlington rite of passage trip with our oldest and it was an amazing experience. First off, it was the first time it has been just the three of us for the last 12 years and that was really special, especially with our oldest, Brittney. It all started with the three of us. We got to have fun together and have good conversations. We held hands and played together. I think this week provided memories that all three of us will cherish forever. We also had all of our family, her closest friends, and other leaders in her life write letters to her and she opened a few each day of the trip. The letters were of people speaking into her life, prayers people had for her, etc. It was so amazing to watch her read these letters and be able to say “this is what the people who love Christ, and love me see about me, this is who they say I am, this is how they see God working in my life”. I watched my daughter cherish those letters, pouring over every word, and as she read them I was able to say “this is who you are Brittney”.
Watching your child grow up is a peculiar feeling. You turn around and you have a full grown woman (or man) on your hands, wondering what happened to your sweet baby. Our relationship with our little girl is changing, she will always be our child, but soon she will be responsible for herself and our role will be more of one as a coach and maybe even friend. It is a very difficult and very wonderful thing. So I tread these waters carefully, doing my best to help her transition to womanhood, and leaning on the wisdom of those older and wiser, because letting go is difficult. There are so many voices out there to listen to, I hope our special week helped the voices of those who matter most ring loudly.